Whew! It seems like forever since I posted a review. Time to get back in the saddle and the Oriental Beauty from Tea Ave seems like a good place to start. Tea Ave specializes in Taiwanese oolongs and this may be the best of their offerings. The leaf aroma is of fresh grass and the flavor over several steeps follows a perfect arc (I started at :30 and added :15 for each subsequent steep). The first smells rich and slightly sweet; the flavor is a bit watery but has a long finish and hits those glands at the back of the tongue. The second steep smells and tastes notably more honey-like, but with a slightly shorter finish. The third steep has a rich and soft mouth feel with more honey flavor up front and less in back. The flavor arc heads down after that, getting progressively drier on the tongue and less sweet. Tea Ave’s hype says that you can get up to ten steeps, but I found it pretty tapped out after six. Still, six steeps of lovely, sweet, lightly roasted oolong is nothing to sneeze at. I got this as a sample and I’ll definitely be ordering more.

Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Honey

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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I grew up drinking Lipton with lots of sugar and lemon. It’s only over the last few years that I’ve come to discover and appreciate real tea. Now I’m on a mission to expose as many of my friends as possible to the delights of Camellia sinensis. I dream of opening a tea shop someday where people can sit, slow down, and enjoy a proper cup properly steeped. I have so much to learn to make that happen, so I’m eager to chat, meet, and sip with those who know more than I.

I can’t say that I’ve discovered a favorite tea yet. I lean toward the bolder black teas (I don’t think I’ve tried a keemun I didn’t like), but those with lots of golden tips spark my taste buds too (Golden Monkey, dubbed “Monkey Butt” by my then-teenage son, is always popular in my house).

I love the pu-ehrs I’ve tried, but I know that that is a whole world of flavors that could take me years to explore. I keep sampling subtler white, green, and yellow teas, and I’m learning as I go. Let’s face it, I’m sampling everything I can and having a ball doing it.

Speaking of sampling, I’m eager to swap, so feel free to peruse my cupboard (I’m making a concerted effort to record what I have) and ask me for any of it.

When I’m not steeping, I write, bike, raise kids, love my wife, and cook fine vegetarian fare.

That picture is of me at a rest stop on a long bike ride. I’m still working on how to combine long-distance cycling with tea drinking. Hmmm . . .


Newton, Massachusetts

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